FTC Asks Congress to Consider Privacy Legislation
March 29, Patumwan, Bangkok - Kevin Bankston will speak on a panel entitled "Is Thailand ready to leap forward in the information economy?"
March 29, Washington, DC - Justin Brookman will testify at a hearing of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade hearing entitled "Balancing Privacy and Innovation: Does the President's Proposal Tip the Scale?"
March 29, Budapest, Hungary - Greg Nojeim will be speaking about a human rights framework for surveillance laws at a conference on Digital Rights Advocacy at the Central European University in Budapest.
The Federal Trade Commission issued its privacy report this week; CDT's Justin Brookman will be testifying about the Department of Commerce's own recent privacy report before a House subcommittee on Thursday. As part of its international work, CDT raised an alarm about the pending reexamination of the authority of the International Telecommunication Union. Meanwhile, issues that have long been the focus of CDT's domestic work are being confronted in countries around the world: We report on an effort in India to impose liability on Internet intermediaries and on Pakistan's proposal, now possibly withdrawn, for massive Internet filtering.
FTC Asks Congress to Consider Privacy Legislation
On Monday, March 26, the Federal Trade Commission released the final version of its long awaited report on consumer privacy, making it clear once again that pure self-regulation is inadequate and calling on Congress to "consider" baseline privacy legislation. The report also consolidated the principles behind the Commission's recent enforcement actions, possibly going too far, in CDT's view, in its emphasis on "public commitments" - as opposed to substantively unfair or deceptive practices - as its enforcement hook. The report acknowledged again that the categorical distinction between personally identifiable information and "non-PII" is becoming less important each day and that companies need to take care to ensure that de-identified data is not re-identified. The report also included a timely reaffirmation that the "Do Not Track" standard that is in development needs to give users control over data collection and not just over ad targeting.
Internet Governance Hangs in the Balance
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a United Nations agency, is considering whether and how it will regulate the Internet. The process has enormous implications for the future of the Internet.
Currently, the ITU treaty does not touch on core Internet issues. Some nations, notably China and Russia, are advocating for an expansion of the ITU's authority to include Internet regulation. They argue that challenges related to cybersecurity, cybercrime, and child protection require more regulation at the global level.
The ITU is controlled by governments and traditionally it has provided little room for civil society to participate in its processes. CDT has issued a memo urging civil society groups and other stakeholders around the world to work through their national governments to preserve the open and decentralized system of governance under which the Internet has flourished. A crucial first step is to ensure that the ITU's negotiation process is transparent.
Internet on Trial in India
India, like the US, has a law protecting Internet intermediaries from being held liable for content posted by users. However, as in a number of countries, that protection, so critical to the success of the Internet, is under attack. An Indian journalist, Vinay Rai, was upset about content hosted on Google, Facebook and other platforms that allegedly mocked religious figures. Rather than using the notice-and-takedown process outlined in Indian law, Rai brought criminal charges against Google, Facebook, and seven other companies. In a disturbing move, the government authorized the prosecution and a judge issued an order finding that there was enough evidence to proceed with a trial against the intermediaries, even though Indian law would suggest otherwise.
Following Public Opposition, Companies Say No to Pakistan Filtering
Last month, Pakistan issued an RFP, seeking bids for an Internet filtering system that could address undefined "undesirable" content and could block 50 million URLs at a time.
Internet advocates in Pakistan and around the world complained, and called on corporations not to bid for the project. Cisco, Sandvine, Verizon, Websense, and McAfee publicly committed not to pursue the job. Last week, the word from Pakistan was that the government may have abandoned the proposal. The incident is an interesting case study of the relationship between NGO protest and corporate social responsibility.
CDT's Harley Geiger has outlined a pragmatic set of steps that would protect privacy as drones are deployed for commercial and governmental uses over the US.
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